Jaguar baseball edged Del Norte for road win

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NOTE: Due to space constraints, this story could not be included in the print edition of the Wednesday, March 14 News-Bulletin. It is only available on news-bulletin.com.

Even though the Valencia High baseball team probably could have performed better in some categories Saturday, a one-run win usually builds confidence.
That’s what the Jaguars are hoping to take from their 3-2 win Saturday at Del Norte. And with one of their most daunting stretches of the season on tap, confidence could be a critical element. The Jags, who were set to host Class 4A power Goddard for a Tuesday doubleheader after News-Bulletin press time, are scheduled to compete in the Piedra Vista Invite this weekend. They’ll face 5A Cleveland in an 11:30 a.m. game Thursday in the Farmington-area tourney, and could face host Piedra Vista on Friday and either Farmington High, Los Alamos, Clovis or Durango (Colo.) on Saturday.
“We need to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat, and some that we shouldn’t,” said VHS coach Carlos Carrasco. “Our offense isn’t rolling on all cylinders, and we’re kind of taking steps forward and steps backward, but we are finding ways to win, even when we don’t do that many things well in a game.”
The hard-earned win at Del Norte improved the Jags’ record to 2-3. The teams have staged several contentious battles in Valencia’s short four-year history, and the new wood-composite bats seemed to play a role in Saturday’s contest.
Robert Carrasco, the coach’s brother, walked in the top of the seventh inning, with Jorge Venegas reaching on an outfield error as Carrasco scored. Even though Venegas was later tagged out on a failed suicide squeeze that would have given the Jags a bigger lead, Carrasco (2-0) finished his complete-game pitching performance with two strikeouts in a scoreless bottom of the seventh to end the game.
“It was the kind of good wood-bat game us coaches anticipated,” said Del Norte coach Benjamin White.
The teams combined for eight errors in the contest, played in cold morning conditions. The host Knights made five errors, and VHS had only three hits off Artiaga, while the Knights got five hits with Carrasco on the mound.
Tied 1-1 after one inning, the game wouldn’t have any more scoring until the bottom of the fourth. The Jags tied the game 2-2 with a run in the top of the sixth before Carrasco scored what would be the game-winning run in the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, the younger Carrasco got a pop-up and a strikeout to start the frame. A Knight player then walked and reached second base on a passed ball before Carrasco struck out the next batter to end the game.
“Robert pitched well enough to give us a chance to win, and we found a way,” said coach Carrasco. “But we need to do more little things well, like exchange an out for a run.”
Cody Koontz went 2-for-3 Saturday and scored a run, and Chris Proctor had a hit as well. The Jags host Artesia for a Tuesday, March 20 game.
White seemed pleased Artiaga held Robert Carrasco, the Jaguars’ dangerous leadoff hitter, to 0-for-3 with a walk. He praised coach Carrasco and the Jaguar program.
“With the core of talent they have and gaps they’re filling in, if they buy into the program, they’re one of the better teams in 4A,” said white. “Carlos has my respect.”


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.